For anyone struggling with drugs and alcohol, finding recovery can often be an incredibly powerful and energizing experience. Once we’ve gotten over the initial culture shock and embraced a recovery lifestyle, we will likely find ourselves incredibly excited by the possibilities our new life holds. We no longer hurt all the time, we’ve stopped making messes of everything, and we’ve begun to rebuild ourselves and our lives. Hopefully, we’ve worked the 12-Steps thoroughly and continue to do so as we attend meetings and find ways to be of service. This is all wonderful — simply wonderful. We have every reason to be excited, happy, and overflowing with gratitude. We’ve been set free from the prison of our disease and returned to a life of happiness, usefulness, and wholeness. And there’s truly nothing bad about that!
However, we should still be mindful. For most alcoholics and addicts like us, excitement and enthusiasm can sometimes lead to bumps and bruises. They aren’t quite the same mental or emotional states as joy or gratitude. There’s no such thing as too much joy or too much gratitude — but excitement can sometimes trip us up.
Be Excited, But Be Cautious
Consider the familiar story of the addict who is so excited to fix their lifetime of mistakes and hurting people that they rush out to make amends to everyone without a sponsor’s guidance and without working the rest of the 12-Steps. What usually happens? Things go pretty harshly, and they are not prepared. This emotional pain can cause the addict to risk relapsing or feel like the 12-Steps let them down.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being excited about 12-Step work, but we should rarely go it alone in recovery. We have a sponsor and a recovery community for a reason. No one should ever be discouraged from working the 12-Steps, but we should remember to do it like it’s outlined in the book of Alcoholics Anonymous — one step at a time, and with our sponsor. Excitement isn’t a bad thing. But when it causes us to rush ahead without thinking, we can end up harming others and ourselves needlessly. That’s why we hear cliches all the time like “one day at a time, don’t try to do everything at once, slow and steady, just do the next right thing,” etc. These simple slogans are very much real and precious advice we should take.
Good Things Take Time
Of course, we will be bursting at the seams to correct some of our past errors and fix some relationships we miss. We’ll be itching to conquer long-term hangups and get right down to living our best life in recovery — but all good things take time. We, and the people in our lives, are better served by taking things one at a time. In recovery, we are taught to live 24 hours at a time. We do what we can, the best we can, just for today. That may seem dull, but it’s precisely how beautiful lives are built, and how they’re best lived and experienced. Life goes fast enough all on its own, and life is tragically short for many alcoholics and addicts. We are the lucky ones, and it might be nice if we slowed down enough to really appreciate that fact.
We simply can’t do everything at once, and we can’t do certain things before we are ready. We have to practice, learn, and put our decisions and goals through the process of the 12-Steps in order to fully appreciate our lives. This is not a boring burden or a slowing-down process — it’s quite the opposite. If we take the time to get educated, practice the rhythm of recovery, and act mindfully, we actually stand a much better chance of achieving the type of mindset and success that helps us grow and keeps us grateful.
Walk, Don’t Run
Feeling the pure joy of freedom from our disease can be electric. It’s a normal reaction to want to run away from our past life in alcoholism and addiction at full speed and straight towards our brand new life in recovery. However, the 12-Steps are just that — steps. We take the 12-Steps one at a time because if we break into a run, we just might miss a few steps and some vital lessons. Rushing through is a common pitfall. Sometimes by doing so, we stumble again. We may blame the program of recovery for not working for us, when it was really our impatience that got the better of us.
Patience isn’t a sexy word, and by no means should we go slowly through the 12-Steps if our recovery is in jeopardy. Don’t take any longer than you have to. Work with your sponsor every part of the way, and follow their advice as best you can. Don’t dawdle on working your 12-Steps, but don’t speed through them either—both of these tactics present difficulties that can be avoided by striving for steady progress.
We can’t do it all at once, and we can’t do it overnight. But as long as we stay involved in the processes of recovery, there is nothing we can’t do. We just have to stay involved, stay active, be patient, have a little faith, and take it one day at a time.
Alcoholics and addicts often experience feelings of being “left behind” in life, especially if they have lost much of their development or progress to their disease. In recovery at Jaywalker Lodge, these individuals are given the means to rebuild themselves, reconstruct their lives, and rejoin society. You can be one of them. If you are struggling to maintain or achieve sobriety on your own and are ready to ask for help, please reach out to us. Call Jaywalker Lodge today at (866) 529-9255.
As Chief Executive Officer Bill provides leadership and manage all day-to-day operations of Jaywalker Lodge, an extended care residential addiction treatment program for adult men.